Friday, 30 September 2016

In defence of Cliff

I'm getting very lax with this blog. I only realised at about 4pm today that I hadn't posted yesterday, and, when I tried to remember what I was doing, I realised I couldn't remember! The truth is that I was writing all day. All day. Working on lyrics for Em. All day. From when I got up at 8am. Buried in my lap top. Right into the evening. I got such cabin fever that Nathan had to take me for a midnight walk around the block. And that's why I didn't post...

I woke up this morning to see Brother Tim had posted something witty about the fact that Sir Cliff of Richard is releasing his 101st album tomorrow. Tim can always be relied on to make me laugh out loud with his comments. Sometimes they're brilliantly contentious. Meriel once said that the joy about my brother is that he has a brilliant ability to light a bomb fuse, rush off to an elevated spot, and enjoy watching the carnage unfold. Obviously no one could ever accuse me of something similar!

Anyway, it wasn't actually what Tim posted which was contentious, it was one of his friend's responses which made me cross.

Whoever it was accused Cliff Richard of being a "nonce," which, for readers outside this country, is a slang term, meaning paedophile. Now, Cliff Richard has had a pretty awful time of it of late, clearing his name following a string of "historic" child abuse claims. This one was particularly nasty. The police even tipped off the BBC before raiding his house, so most of the country became aware of the allegations before he did, which was one of the greatest abuses of the legal system which has happened in a police operation riddled with catastrophe and unpleasantness.

A week or so ago, the newspapers reported that Cliff had been exonerated and that all charges against him had been dropped. He must have been forced to make quite a lot of noise about the fact, as newspapers in this country are incredibly fast to report allegations of this nature, but positively remedial when it comes to printing apologies or stories which clear the innocent person's name.

So, in short, Cliff isn't a nonce. He isn't anything of the sort and to say as much is little short of slander. The poor man has probably been forced to spend a small fortune clearing his name. And yes, I'm sure someone like Cliff Richard won't have been financially ruined by the fight, but it will have taken everything out of him emotionally, and probably physically. The great tragedy, in my view, is that members of the general public, who know none of the facts, almost systematically both refuse to apologise for their role in the Macarthyesque witch hunt, or have the decency to refrain from spreading further gossip with the ludicrous view that there's no smoke without fire. Blithely writing the word "nonce" on a Facebook feed is tantamount to publishing an allegation, and in my view ought to be punished.

From what I can gather, and everything I've heard, Operation Yew Tree is failing. Almost every one of these cases becomes one person's word against another. And can any of us remember the exact details of sexual encounters we had ten years ago, let alone forty? More worryingly, I have heard, and I'd hate to think that this was true, that police in certain instances have actually suppressed information they know will lead to a case being thrown out, one assumes because they're not reaching their targets when it comes to convictions. The more I hear about Operation Yew Tree, the more I wonder whether it's not a massive waste of tax payers' money which diverts police away from solving actual crimes. We've taken a few key scalps. Everybody these days knows the rules when it comes to sex. Can't we just move on and focus on the dreadful things which are happening in the present?

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